The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
Containing three other arguments.
Arg. III. If Jesus Christ died for all men,--that is, purchased and procured for them, according to the mind and will of God, all those things which we recounted, and the Scripture setteth forth, to be the effects and fruits of his death, which may be summed up in this one phrase, "eternal redemption," then he did this, and that according to the purpose of God, either absolutely or upon some condition by them to be fulfilled. If absolutely, then ought all and every one, absolutely and infallibly, to be made actual partakers of that eternal redemption so purchased; for what, I pray, should hinder the enjoyment of that to any which God absolutely intended, and Christ absolutely purchased for them? If upon condition, then he did either procure this condition for them, or he did not? If he did procure this condition for them,--that is, that it should be bestowed on them and wrought within them,--then be did it either absolutely again, or upon a condition. If absolutely, then are we as we were before; for to procure any thing for another, to be conferred on him upon such a condition, and withal to procure that condition absolutely to be bestowed on him, is equivalent to the absolute procuring of the thing itself. For so we affirm, in this very business: Christ procured salvation for us, to be bestowed conditionally, if we do believe; but faith itself, that he hath absolutely procured, without prescribing of any condition. Whence we affirm, that the purchasing of salvation for us is equivalent to what it would have been if it had been so purchased as to have been absolutely bestowed, in respect of the event and issue. So that thus also must all be absolutely saved. But if this condition be procured upon condition, let that be assigned, and we will renew our quaere concerning the procuring of that, whether it were absolute or conditional, and so never rest until they come to fix somewhere, or still run into a circle.
But, on the other side, is not this condition procured by him on whose performance all the good things purchased by him are to be actually enjoyed? Then, first, This condition must be made known to all, as Arg. II. Secondly, All men are able of themselves to perform this condition, or they are not. If they are, then, seeing that condition is faith in the promises, as is on all sides confessed, are, all men of themselves, by the power of their own free-will, able to believe; which is contrary to the Scriptures, as, by the Lord's assistance, shall be declared. If they cannot, but that this faith must be bestowed on them and wrought within them by the free grace of God, then when God gave his Son to die for them, to procure eternal redemption for them all, upon condition that they did believe, be either purposed to work faith in them all by his grace, that they might believe, or he did not? If he did, why doth not he actually perform it, seeing "he is of one mind, and who can turn him?" why do not all believe? why have not all men faith? Or doth he fail of his purpose? If he did not purpose to bestow faith on them all, or (which is all one) if he purposed not to bestow faith on all (for the will of God doth not consist in a pure negation of any thing,--what he doth not will that it should be, he wills that it should not be), then the sum of it comes to this:--That God gave Christ to die for all men, but upon this condition, that they perform that which of themselves without him they cannot perform, and purposed that, for his part, he would not accomplish it in them.
Now, if this be not extreme madness, to assign a will unto God of doing that which himself knows and orders that it shall never be done, of granting a thing upon a condition which without his help cannot be fulfilled, and which help he purposed not to grant, let all judge. Is this any thing but to delude poor creatures? Is it possible that any good at all should arise to any by such a purpose as this, such a giving of a Redeemer? Is it agreeable to the goodness of God to intend so great a good as is the redemption purchased by Christ, and to pretend that he would have it profitable for them, when he knows that they can no more fulfil the condition which he requires, that it may be by them enjoyed, than Lazarus could of himself come out of the grave? Doth it beseem the wisdom of God, to purpose that which he knows shall never be fulfilled? If a man should promise to give a thousand pounds to a blind man upon condition that he will open his eyes and see,--which he knows well enough he cannot do,- were that promise to be supposed to come from a heart-pitying of his poverty, and not rather from a mind to illude and mock at his misery? If the king should promise to pay a ransom for the captives at Algiers, upon condition that they would conquer their tyrants and come away,--which he knows full well they cannot do,--were this a kingly act? Or, as if a man should pay a price to redeem captives, but not that their chains may be taken away, without which they cannot come out of prison; or promise dead men great rewards upon condition they live again of themselves;- are not these to as much end as the obtaining of salvation for men upon condition that they do believe, without obtaining that condition for them? Were not this the assigning such a will and purpose as this to Jesus Christ: "I will obtain eternal life to be bestowed on men, and become theirs, by the application of the benefits of my death; but upon this condition, that they do believe. But as I will not reveal my mind and will in this business, nor this condition itself, to innumerable of them, so concerning the rest I know they are no ways able of themselves,--no more than Lazarus was to rise, or a blind man is to see,--to perform the condition that I do require, and without which none of the good things intended for them can ever become theirs; neither will I procure that condition ever to be fulfilled in them. That is, I do will that that shall be done which I do not only know shall never be done, but that it cannot be done, because I will not do that without which it can never be accomplished"? Now, whether such a will and purpose as this beseem the wisdom and goodness of our Saviour, let the reader judge. In brief; an intention of doing good unto any one upon the performance of such a condition as the intender knows is absolutely above the strength of him of whom it is required,--especially if he know that it can no way be done but by his concurrence, and he is resolved not to yield that assistance --which is necessary to the actual accomplishment of it,--is a vain fruitless flourish. That Christ, then, should obtain of his Father eternal redemption, and the Lord should through his Son intend it for them who shall never be made partakers of it, because they cannot perform, and God and Christ have purposed not to bestow, the condition on which alone it is to be made actually theirs, is unworthy of Christ, and unprofitable to them for whom it is obtained; which that any thing that Christ obtained for the sons of men should be unto them, is a hard saying indeed. Again; if God through Christ purpose to save all if they do believe, because he died for all, and this faith be not purchased by Christ, nor are men able of themselves to believe, how comes it to pass that any are saved?
[If it be answered], "God bestows faith on some, not on others," I reply, Is this distinguishing grace purchased for those some comparatively, in respect of those that are passed by without it? If it be, then did not Christ die equally for all, for he died that some might have faith, not others; yea, in comparison, he cannot be said to die for those other some at all, not dying that they might have faith, without which he knew that all the rest would be unprofitable and fruitless. But is it? not purchased for them by Christ? Then have those that be saved no more to thank Christ for than those that are damned; which were strange, and contrary to Rev.1:5, 6, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father," etc. For my part, I do conceive that Christ hath obtained salvation for men, not upon condition if they would receive it, but so fully and perfectly that certainly they should receive it. He purchased salvation, to be bestowed on them that do believe; but withal faith, that they might believe. Neither can it be objected, that, according to our doctrine, God requires any thing of men that they cannot do, yea, faith to believe in Christ: for,--First, Commands do not signify what is God's intention should be done, but what is our duty to do; which may be made known to us whether we be able to perform it or not: it signifieth no intention or purpose of God. Secondly, For the promises which are proposed together with the command to believe:--First, they do not hold out the intent and purpose of God, that Christ should die for us if we do believe; which is absurd,--that the act should be the constituter of its own object, which must be before it, and is presupposed to be before we are desired to believe it: nor, secondly, the purpose of God that the death of Christ should be profitable to as if we do believe; which we before confuted: but, thirdly, only that faith is the way to salvation which God hath appointed; so that all that do believe shall undoubtedly be saved, these two things, faith and salvation, being inseparably linked together, as shall be declared.
ARG. IV. If all mankind be, in and by the eternal purpose of God, distinguished into two sorts and conditions, severally and distinctly described and set forth in the Scripture, and Christ be peculiarly affirmed to die for one of these sorts, and nowhere for them of the other, then did he not die for all; for of the one sort he dies for all and every one, and of the other for no one at all. But,--
First, There is such a discriminating distinguishment among men, by the eternal purpose of God, as those whom he "loves" and those whom he "hates," Rom. 9:13; whom he "knoweth," and whom he "knoweth not :" John 10:14, "I know my sheep;" 2 Tim. 2:19, "The Lord knoweth them that are his;" Rom. 8:29, "Whom he did foreknow;" chap. 11:2, "His people which he foreknew;" "I know you not," Matt. 25:12: so John 13:18, "I Speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen." Those that are appointed to life and glory, and those that are appointed to and fitted for destruction,-- "elect" and "reprobate;" those that were "ordained to eternal life," and those who "before were of old ordained to condemnation:" as Eph. 1:4 , "He hath chosen us in him;" Acts 13:48, "Ordained to eternal life;" Rom. 8:30, "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." So on the other side, l Thes. 5:9, "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation;" Rom. 9:18-21, "He hath mercy o n whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?" Jude 4, "Ordained to this condemnation 2 Pet. 2:12, "Made to be taken and destroyed;" "Sheep and goats," Matt 25:32; John 10 passim. Those on whom he hath "mercy," and those whom he "hardenetb," Rom. 9:18. Those that are his "peculiar people" and "the children of promise," that are "not of the world ," his "church;" and those that, in opposition to them, are "the world," "not prayed for," "not his people:" as Tit 2:14; Gal. 4:28; John 15:19, 17:9; Col. 1:24; John 9:52; Heb. 2:10, 12, 13. Which distinction of men is everywhere ascribed to the purpose, will, and good pleasure of God: Prov. 16:4, "The Lord hath made all things for himself, even the wicked for the day of evil." Matt. 9:25, 26, "I thank thee, 0 Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." Rom. 9:11, 12, "The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger." Verses 16, 17, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." chap. 8:28-30,"Who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified them he also glorified." So that the first part of the proposition is clear from the Scripture.
Now, Christ is said expressly and punctually to die for them on the one side: for his "people," Matt. 1:21; his "sheep," John 10:11, 14; his "church," Acts 20:28, Eph 5:25, as distinguished from the world, Rom. 5:8, 9, John 11:51, 52; his "elect," Rom. 8:32-34; his "children," Heb. 2:12, 13;- as before more at large. Whence we may surely conclude that Christ died not for all and every one,--to wit, not for those he "never knew," whom he "hateth," whom he "hardeneth," on whom he "will not show mercy," who "were before of old ordained to condemnation;" in a word, for a reprobate, for the world, for which he would not pray. That which some except, that though Christ be said to die for his "sheep," for his "elect," his "chosen," yet he is not said to die for them only,-- that term is nowhere expressed, is of no value; for is it not without any forced interpretation, in common sense, and according to the usual course of speaking, to distinguish men into two such opposite conditions as elect and reprobate, sheep and goats, and then affirm that he died for his elect, [is it not] equivalent to this, he died for his elect only? Is not the sense as clearly restrained as if that restrictive term had been added? Or is that term always added in the Scripture in every indefinite assertion, which yet must of necessity be limited and restrained as if it were expressly added? as where our Saviour saith, " I am the way, the truth, and the life," John 14:6,--he doth not say that he only is so, and yet of necessity it must be so understood. As also in that, Col. 1:19, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;"--he doth not express the limitation "only," and yet it were no less than blasphemy to suppose a possibility of extending the affirmation to any other. So that this exception, notwithstanding this argument, is, as far as I can see, unanswerable; which also might be farther urged by a more large explication of God's purpose of election and reprobation, showing how the death of Christ was a means set apart and appointed for the saving of his elect, and not at all undergone and suffered for those which, in his eternal counsel, he did determine should perish for their sins, and so never be made partakers of the benefits thereof. But of this more must be spoken, if the Lord preserve us, and give assistance for the other part of this controversy, concerning the cause of sending Christ.
ARG. V. That is not to be asserted and affirmed which the Scripture doth not anywhere go before us in; but the Scripture nowhere saith Christ died for all men, much less for all and every man (between which two there is a wide difference, as shall be declared): therefore, this is not to be asserted. It is true, Christ is said to give his life "a ransom for all," but nowhere for all men. And because it is affirmed expressly in other places that he died for many, for his church, for them that believe, for the children that God gave him, for us, some of all sorts, though not expressly, yet clearly in terms equivalent, Rev. 5:9, 10, it must be clearly proved that where all is mentioned, it cannot be taken for all believers, all his elect, his whole church, all the children that God gave him, some of all sorts, before a universal affirmative can be thence concluded. And if men will but consider the particular places, and contain themselves until they have done what is required, we shall be at quiet, I am persuaded, in this business.